Retherm ovens are high-powered ovens designed to bring prepared foods up to safe serving temperature. They cook large amounts of food, fast. This makes them ideal for schools and other institutional operations. Retherm ovens may also be referred to as thermalizers, thermalizer ovens, rethermalizers, and other terms. Their function is the same, whatever you call them.
First, let’s dig into what retherming means. Then we will discuss the retherm oven and its features.
What is Retherming?
Retherming is reheating previously cooked food to a safe temperature. According to the USDA, prepared food must be reheated to an internal temperature of 165°F, within two hours, or it must be discarded. Cooking times of 90 minutes are preferred, to allow a safe amount of flexible preparation and cooking time.
Notably, thermalizer ovens allow off-site food preparation. Indeed, this is advantageous for centralized kitchens with satellite operations. Critically, most retherm ovens, such as CVap® Retherm Ovens, max out at 350°F. Accordingly, these ovens don’t require ventilation hoods (in most locations).
Granted, in many respects, retherm ovens are similar to low-temperature convection ovens or cook and hold ovens.
However, retherm ovens have greater wattage and air movement. Consequently, this improves energy transfer efficiency. Retherm efficiency is the transfer of energy from a heated cabinet to a thermal mass (food) at a fast and controlled rate. In other words, retherm energy efficiency is a measure of how much of the energy that an oven consumes is delivered to the food product during the rethermalization process.
Critically, the larger the thermal mass, the more energy (kW), is needed to transfer to the mass. In the same regard, the more energy (kW), the faster the thermal mass can absorb the energy and reach desired temperatures. Consequently, this makes retherm ovens ideal for reheating chilled or frozen foods. They deliver lots of energy, quickly.
Heating Quickly and Safely
Most standard thermalizers use robust air circulation to reheat food.
Volume feeding presents unique challenges. Above all, how does one provide fast results, without overcooking or dehydrating food? One option is a combi oven. These powerful ovens can operate as convection, conventional, or steam ovens. While they are extremely fast, they’re also extremely expensive. However, combi ovens require a big initial investment, and continuous maintenance and chemicals to keep in good condition. Importantly, one should definitely consider TCO when contemplating the best oven for their operation.
During the retherm process, food is quickly brought back up to safe serving temperature. Once the set temperature has been reached, the oven automatically switches to hold mode, keeping products hot and ready until serving time.
If multiple loads are required, many manufacturers offer holding cabinets. These specialized cabinets keep cooked food at a hot, safe temperature until serving. Importantly, these can free up the retherm oven for additional batches.
Presets and Channels
Many retherm ovens offer preset menu selections.
Each menu channel is a different set of oven parameters. Significantly, each channel is ideal for a specific group of menu items.
Factors affecting oven temperature and cook time when retherming:
- State of Food: Slacked vs. frozen. Slacked food has been defrosted to 41°F. Naturally, slacking is recommended when retherming, as it cuts down the cooking time. Of course, most retherm ovens are capable of cooking prepared frozen foods within the food-safe time window. They just take longer.
- Product Density: Denser food products lead to longer cook times.
- Oven load: Greater space between products promotes better air movement, resulting in shorter cook times. In other words, don’t overload your retherm oven.
Ideally, retherm ovens:
- Retain nutritional value.
- Maintain food flavor and texture.
- Simplify meal transportation.
- Reduce meal and labor costs.
- Achieveconsistent food quality and food safety.
- Save space.
Retherm ovens reduce food shrinkage and increase food quality. Because they don’t generally require vent hoods, retherm ovens offer the ability to prepare food in locations you wouldn’t otherwise be able to (local codes prevail). Indeed, this can open additional cooking capacity within limited footprints.
Winston’s CVap Retherm Ovens
Winston’s CVap Retherm Ovens are built to last. Solid stainless steel construction is built to withstand continuous, demanding use.
CVap Retherm Ovens are versatile ovens that cook with amazing precision. Naturally, they’re a great alternative to combi ovens, and much more affordable. Surely, CVap ovens are a powerful solution to your commercial oven needs.
CVap Retherm Ovens are available in two feature levels:
Series 7 Retherm Ovens
CVap Series 7 Retherm Ovens are our top-of-the-line. Built with brains and brawn, Series 7 ovens will be the rock star in any commercial kitchen. Features include:
- Capacitive touch controls
- Eight adjustable preset channels
- Audio port
- HACCP data download
- Switchable convection fan
- CVap wireless programming (via NFC or USB).
- Optional food probe
These powerful ovens are a great solution for your thermalizer needs.
Series 5 Retherm Ovens
CVap Series 5 Retherm Ovens deliver serious performance. Series 5 ovens bring fantastic features, including:
- Capacitive Touch Controls
- Eight adjustable preset channels
- Audio Port
- HACCP Data Download
- Convection fan
- CVap programming (via USB)
These commercial ovens are a great solution for foodservice operations that need to serve lots of food, fast. They produce quality and quantity.
The Series 5 feature set is also available in CVap Holding Cabinets and Cook and Hold Ovens.
CVap Retherm Cooking Processes
Winston’s retherm ovens are extremely versatile. These are some of the cooking processes possible in these ovens.
Probe cooking is available in Series 7 Retherm Ovens. Certainly, a probe enhances oven precision. In fact, it makes it easily documentable. Indeed, it eliminates guesswork and simplifies the cooking process.
CVap Retherm Ovens excel at retherming frozen or chilled prepared food. Controlled vapor heat is incredibly efficient at heat transfer. Significantly, it retherms food without burning outer edges. Likewise, CVap’s air heat controls surface texture. As a result, foods are as moist or crispy as desired.
Staging brings food to the desired internal temperature, then holds it there, without overcooking or drying out. Certainly, the final flavor-enhancing and texturing touches can be made moments before the food is served. Significantly, CVap ovens offer all the advantages and precision of sous vide, without requiring bags.
Labor is a big uncertainty. Overnight cooking can help. Load up your CVap ovens with the food needed for the next day. The morning crew will clock in to find perfectly cooked food, holding precisely at the selected temperature and texture.
CVap retherm ovens can do double-duty as a holding cabinet. In a perfect world, every meal is cooked fresh to order. The reality of foodservice is that food usually must be held before it’s served. But holding food doesn’t mean it can’t be kept fresh. CVap maintains just-cooked freshness, temperature, and texture for extended periods. You can cook and hold, in the same footprint!
Surely, sous vide is one of the most precise cooking methods. Traditionally it involves sealing foods in food-safe plastic bags and placing them in a temperature-controlled water bath. The advantage to sous vide is that food simply can’t exceed the temperature of its water bath, eliminating overcooking. Likewise, CVap ovens offer the precision of sous vide. However, CVap gives you the ability to add or manage food color and texture…abilities that aren’t possible in an immersion circulator. After all, you can match the production of a dozen circulators with a single CVap oven.
Like traditional sous vide, CVap ovens utilize water as the primary heat transfer medium. But instead of water immersion, CVap uses heated water vapor. Notably, you can avoid the expense and mess of bags. However, if you desire the flavor concentration that bags provide, CVap ovens handle them with no problem.
Steaming involves continuously boiling water to vaporize into steam. The steam carries heat to food, cooking it. In the meantime, food is kept separate from the boiling water but directly contacts the steam. Conventional commercial steamers utilize continuous clouds of 212°F steam. Indeed, some steamers can even exceed that temperature. However, CVap ovens allow you to steam at 200°F. Because it’s below 212°F, it gives the operator greater control and flexibility over the food.
CVap technology’s precision makes it ideal for proofing because low, moist heat accelerates the rising process. Accordingly, CVap keeps the temperature low and stable, allowing the yeast to get down to the business of rising, without temperature fluctuations.
CVap Retherm Ovens feature an automatic hold. When the cook cycle is complete, the ovens transition to hold mode. Hence, this maintains food at the desired doneness level until you’re ready to serve, without overcooking or drying out. In fact, CVap ovens can be used as holding cabinets, allowing double duty from a single unit.
CVap ovens are ideal for bread and pastries. Significantly, they are unparalleled at preparing moist dishes, such as cakes, cheesecake, and crème brûlée. In fact, if it bakes at 350°F or lower, it bakes best in CVap ovens.
CVap ovens can double as smokers. Accordingly, adding an optional Winston Smoker Box to your oven yields tender, juicy meats with a smoky flavor. In fact, you can even cook sous vide and smoke at the same time. In the end, the smoker box is a must-have accessory for any barbeque establishment.
Blanching involves scalding food in boiling water or steam, removing it after a specific brief interval, and then shocking it by plunging it into iced water or under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Certainly, this process minimizes quality loss. In fact, it preserves color, flavor, and nutritional value. Critically, CVap Retherm Ovens deliver the same thermal load as commercial steamers. However, CVap’s maximum blanching temperature is 200°F at 100% relative humidity. Critically, this allows for a more gentle, controlled blanch.
Braising involves cooking, searing, or roasting food’s exterior to create flavor and color, then adding a liquid. To be sure, the goal is not to submerge the food, but to create steam and vapor to help tenderize food. Of course, cuts of meat with a lot of connective tissue (value cuts) benefit from this method, as well as most vegetables.
– Undoubtedly, the CVap benefit is braising without adding liquid. In fact, CVap ovens create the high moisture environment necessary to achieve the tenderizing that traditional braising provides.
Poaching cooks food in a liquid, such as water, milk, stock, or wine. However, it differs from other “moist” cooking methods in that it is usually at a lower temperature, around 158°F to 176°F. Consequently, the low temperature makes it ideal for delicate foods, such as eggs, poultry, fish, and fruit. Otherwise, these foods might fall apart using higher temperatures. Because it doesn’t usually use fat or oil to flavor the food, it can be a healthier option. Naturally, CVap ovens make poaching easier. In fact, heated, precisely controlled water vapor takes the place of the liquid bath. Because CVap ovens are so precise, poached foods will come out moist and perfect every time.
Roasting enhances flavor through caramelization and Maillard browning on the food surface. Naturally, it is suitable for slower cooking of meat in a larger, whole piece.
In fact, CVap ovens were originally designed to be roasting ovens (though they have come a long way since their inception). Consequently, CVap ovens are perfect for low, slow cooking. Of course, the advantage to this is the roasting is done below the temperature of collagen shrink. Indeed, those tough fibers contract at higher temperatures, but slow roasting in a CVap thermalizer dissolves them. As a result, even the toughest cuts become tender.
Stewing involves cooking proteins (typically tougher cuts) and vegetables in a liquid, usually water or broth. Importantly, stews are cooked at a low simmer, rather than a boil. Consequently, this gently breaks down connective tissues in the meats and vegetables, making everything softer. Importantly, the simmer allows the flavors of the ingredients to intermingle. Naturally, CVap’s moist heat makes it perfect for stew. In fact, their ability to cook precisely at a low temperature means you can load up ovens and produce gallons of stew in a very small space.